In this educational and erudite program, recorded on February 25, 1976, Charles Amirkhanian begins by introducing two compositions: “Inori” a work for orchestra by Karlheinz Stockhausen, who in an interview with Dutch Radio describes his disappointment with the lack of popular engagement with many of his compositional choices; and “Empty Mirror” a 1975 text-sound composition by Neil Rolnick. Charles is then joined in the studio by Joan La Barbara who presents a recording of her 1975 composition “Thunder” for voice, timpani, and electronics. The two then welcome Ingram Marshall and John Adams to the KPFA microphone to discuss an important publication in the field of new music, “Sound Structure in Music” by former KPFA musical director, Robert Erickson. The book focuses on the role that timbre has had in the works of contemporary composers starting with Schoenberg and Debussy and continuing with the likes of Pauline Oliveros and Christopher Hobbs, among others. The conversation does get a little technical at times, but also includes numerous brief excerpts from a range of works that highlights the reviewers’ comments and keep the discussion interesting and relevant to both professional musicologists and laymen alike. The program then concludes with an examination of another book, “Experimental Music-Cage and Beyond” by Michael Nyman, which attempts to delineate the difference between avant-garde and experimental music.
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